High School Views: Pitt recruit could be facing tough decision
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There is a very real possibility that Kevan Smith might be facing a life-changing decision in 18 days.
It's a decision that could steer a large part of his identity -- and potentially his bank account -- for years to come.
Smith, a senior at Seneca Valley High School and a standout quarterback and catcher at the school, has signed an NCAA letter of intent to attend Pitt and play football for Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt beginning in the fall.
Smith was recruited as a quarterback, but then again, so was former Central Catholic standout Shane Murray, who is now settled in at safety. Smith is athletic enough that he should help the Panthers -- at some position -- down the road.
Anyhow, there could be a serious wrench thrown into the situation on June 6, when Major League Baseball conducts its annual amateur draft. More than a few franchises have inquired about Smith and the possibility of selecting this sweet-swinging, rocket-armed prospect.
They like him for the same reason the college football scouts liked him -- for his versatility. He is athletic enough on the diamond to stay at catcher or possibly move to a corner infield or outfield position.
That said, hearing his name on MLB.com's live radio broadcast of the draft is a real possibility.
Now, with all that said, relax Pitt fans.
Before you take a few moments out of your day and log onto Pantherlair.com and the like and author message board posts entitled something like "Kevan Smith is going to choose baseball" just chill for a minute.
He's made it very clear that it will take a lot to pry him away from his football scholarship.
"Right now, I'm committed to football and committed 110 percent to coach Wannstedt," Smith said. "There is that chance that is always there that, you know, if the money was a lot of money that I would go and play baseball. But I'd also want a baseball team to probably pay for my college, or at least give me a lot of money toward school after my baseball career is finished.
"That would be a big part of it. If they would do that, I'd have to seriously consider baseball."
And by the way, if this whole thing shakes down that Smith winds up at Pitt, Panthers fans should be delighted to get him. And only half of it has to do with that 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame. For Smith's personality and maturity beyond his years is a trait seen few and far between among high school seniors.
What speaks directly to the kind of young man Smith is, was the answer he gave to the following question:
I asked him how hard it would be to have to pick up the phone and call Wannstedt if, in fact, he was selected high enough in the Major League draft that he would sign with a team and forgo heading to Pitt in the fall.
Smith's answer: "I wouldn't call coach Wannstedt, I'd have to drive down to the Pitt facility and talk to him man-to-man. That isn't something, out of respect for him, that I would tell him over the phone. But it is something that I would have to tell him face-to-face.
"He has extended an opportunity to me to go to college for free, and if I were to choose baseball, I would owe it to coach Wannstedt and the staff to tell them in person."
For the way he handled that question alone, whether it is the Pitt football program or a baseball franchise that lands Smith, they're going to be lucky to get not only him as an athlete, but moreover as a person.
First Published May 19, 2006 12:00 am